The American Express Platinum card is ready for hot vax summer.

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Holding an American Express Platinum card
Credit: Courtesy of American Express

One of the world's best credit cards for travel just got a serious upgrade.

The travel-oriented American Express Platinum Card has just gotten a major refresh, at a moment when Americans are hitting the road in near record numbers and vaccinations are driving a resurgence in domestic and even international travel.

American Express has added a variety of new travel benefits, including a $200 hotel credit; a $179 credit to cover a year-long membership in Clear, which speeds users through security at select airports and sports venues; and free access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, including more than 40 Centurion Lounges, like the one that just opened at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. They've even added an up to 40 percent discount on membership in WheelsUp, the private-jet charter company.

Other new benefits include a $300 credit for Equinox gym memberships or Equinox+ online classes and a $240 credit for select digital news and entertainment, including subscriptions to services like Audible, The New York Times, Peacock, and SiriusXM.

Equinox wellness with American Express Platinum card
Credit: Courtesy of American Express

But wait, there's more.

Platinum card members are automatically enrolled in "Global Dining Access by Resy," American Express says, "[which is] a new program that unlocks special access to some of the most sought-after restaurants." That includes priority reservations for hard-to-snag tables, invitations to exclusive events, and a VIP badge that lets restaurants know when a Platinum card member is in the house. Among the special evenings on offer are some reserved only for American Express customers during the run of the Chef in Residence at Stone Barns program. That dinner series has brought some of the world's top culinary talent to Stone Barns, the non-profit agriculture center near New York City, to present multicourse meals not available anywhere else.

Dining with American Express Platinum card
Credit: Courtesy of American Express

All these new benefits become available today to anyone with the card or to anyone opening a new account. But they don't come without some downside: American Express has increased the annual fee for the Platinum Card to $695, from $550, which makes this rewards card one of the priciest on the market. (Existing card members will see the fee increase upon renewal after Jan. 1, 2022.)

American Express contends that the card is well worth the investment: "The suite of benefits now offers card members access to more than $1,400 in value each year," according to a statement from the company. Many of the Platinum card's existing benefits, including 5x Membership Rewards Points on travel, a $200 airline fee credit (for things like checked bags or change fees), global concierge service, and a cell phone protection plan that will pay for a new device if yours is broken or stolen, remain unchanged.

The changes to the revamped card come after the pandemic forced many issuers to overhaul the perks they offered users. With things like Global Entry credits, lounge access, and flexible travel redemptions suddenly worth far less than they had been, major card brands pivoted to benefits like credits for streaming services and cash back for grocery and other purchases. American Express, for example, offered "bonus points of up to 12 per dollar spent on groceries and statement credits for things like takeout and delivery, subscriptions to streaming services, and work-from-home equipment" last May, as T+L reported in 2020.

American Express sweetened the deal for existing Platinum card members last fall with a $150 statement credit for anyone booking more than $800 in travel. That offer wrapped in 2020.

On an airplane with American Express Platinum card
Credit: Courtesy of American Express

A complete list of the new perks for holders of the American Express Platinum Card, according to the company:

  • $200 Hotel Credit: An annual statement credit for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel. 
  • $179 CLEAR Credit: An annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, which offers expedited security screening at airports.
  • More Lounges in More Places: Access to more airport lounges compared to any other U.S. credit card program, with over 1,300 airport lounges in 500+ airports and 140 countries around the world. This includes the recently expanded The Centurion® Network, with over 40 lounge locations worldwide, offering a premium airport lounge experience.
  • Premium Private Jet Access: Access to up to 40% off a membership for the Premium Private Jet Program with Wheels Up and up to $2,000 in initial year flight credits to book private charter flights.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Limited-time statement credits on streaming services in 2020 have been one of the most popular Platinum Card offers, with 95% of Card Members having received credits. Now, the Platinum Card is offering up to $240 in annual statement credits ($20/month) on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock. Additionally, Card Members will have access to exclusive experiences from these partners.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Card Members can now receive up to $300 annually in statement credits ($25/month) on select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ (the on-demand fitness app).
  • Exclusive Global Dining Access by Resy: The Global Dining Access program by Resy gives Platinum Card Members exclusive reservations at some of the world's top restaurants, access to premium events and other perks. Dining continues to be a top spending category, and nearly half of consumers surveyed* say that they're willing to spend more on unique dining experiences than they were before the pandemic.